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Minneapolis scenester L.A. Nik promotes Fargo online

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FARGO – Fargo has a new vocal booster – and he doesn’t even live here.

Downtown Minneapolis scenester L.A. Nik is in town this weekend shooting videos to promote what Fargo has to offer.

“This town is fun. That’s the bottom line for Fargo,” he said Friday afternoon. “I just dig this town. It’s all rock ’n’ roll. You can’t find rock ’n’ roll in Minneapolis. It’s all hip-hop and rap. It sucks.”

Nik certainly looks more like an aging rocker than a civic supporter. The 50-year-old wears all black, from head – a long, shag hairstyle – down to his boots, including punk rock or heavy metal band T-shirts.

“I’m the opposite of what I look like. I’m a conservative. I’m a romantic. I’m a lot like Fargo, misunderstood,” he said.

Nik (born Nick Pilotta) discovered Fargo earlier this summer when he was on his way to his girlfriend Nancy Kuehn’s hometown of Parshall, N.D.

“We were surprised. There’s a lot going on here. People think of Fargo as a tumbleweed town,” he said, sitting in Vinyl Taco, a favorite spot from his first visit. “In all of downtown, we don’t have anything this cool in Minneapolis.”

The two were so taken they started filming Nik in various downtown spots, like the Fargo Theatre, the Hotel Donaldson, Dempsey’s and the alley behind Dempsey’s. A clip on Facebook was shared 513 times and seen 99,000 times, he said.

Employees at the Downtown Community Partnership saw it and suggested Nik return this weekend for Fargo-Moorhead’s Streets Alive event on Sunday.

Event co-coordinator Keely Ihry said organizers are covering three nights in a hotel and meals for Nik and Kuehn.

Ihry, who had never heard of Nik before, said there is no contract between the two parties, but hopes the trip will result in videos that promote the event and Fargo, and that Nik will publicize what the community has to offer.

“For us, any type of publicity we can get outside of our normal flyers, billboards and brochures is really helpful to draw attention to what actually happens at Streets Alive,” Ihry said.

Nik said he and Kuehn will shoot about eight hours of footage over the weekend, then edit it down and hand over a spot to the Downtown Community Partnership. He said he may also post some clips himself.

He’s not making any money from the trip, but hopes to develop more hits on his sites.

Not all of Nik’s Fargo clips made locals fans. He said some Fargoans told him they didn’t need an outsider telling them how great their town was.

“I’m not doing this to tell people in your town. I’m trying to tell people in Minneapolis to check out Fargo. It’s a cool town,” Nik explained. “I like it because it’s walkable and really safe. You guys haven’t been ghettofied yet. You better hope that never happens. It sucks.”

Nik moved to Minneapolis five years ago from Los Angeles. (Hence the name.) He quickly made his presence known, promoting the Twin Cities’ nightlife. His boosterism garnered him a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and another nickname, “The Mayor of Downtown after Dark.”

“I’m the biggest cheerleader of downtown Minneapolis,” Nik said.

According to his publicist, he’s also “the largest public figure in the city of Minneapolis” and “the craziest character living in the midwest (sic) and the largest voice via his social media, and blog that Minneapolis has.”

His popularity has also led to several detractors who question his intent and his character.

“I got a lot of haters in Minneapolis,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

John Lamb at (701) 241-5533